Classic Bob Marley Concert Comes to Miami

Ballet mécanique

Balletmechanica With Art Basel Miami kicking off this week, there is an opportunity for art lovers of every genre and taste to take advantage of a city that is overflowing with performances, exhibits and spectacles of all shapes and sizes.
This weekend, I had a chance to take a sip from the creative cup at the unveiling of a new exhibition at the Wolfsonian-FIU.  I've been to the museum often over the past year because of a regular monthly screening, Cinema 2 at The Wolf, which we have done in partnership with the museum, but on Saturday, I had the opportunity to attend as a guest as a "Robotic Symphony" was set loose, consisting of 8 player pianos, 4 bass drums, xylophones, bells, sirens and even propellers as the performed George Antheil's 1924 composition Ballet mécanique. 
The backstory is this, although written in 1924 and originally conceived as a score to accompany a film by French Dadaist artist Fernand Léger and American cinematographer Dudley Murphy, Ballet mécanique was never performed the way the composer envisioned it, because the technology―most significantly, the ability to synchronize multiple player pianos―did not then exist.
Fast forward a three quarters of a century, after several attempts to present the film with Antheil’s music, it wasn’t until the 1990s that music technology advanced to where Antheil’s piece could finally be played in its original orchestration. The first full performance of the piece was produced in 1999. The extraordinary robotic performance that has been mounted by The Wolfsonian is presented by Paul D. Lehrman, coordinator of music technology at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts and Eric Singer, director of the League of Electrical Musical Urban Robots (LEMUR) in Brooklyn, New York. Together they created the programming and the robotic mechanisms to bring this work to life.
You can get a sense of this installation by visiting our website, uVu, but believe me there is nothing like being at the Wolfsonian-FIU to see it live.


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